Environmental Protection and the Euro Crisis

Political Opportunities and Challenges The 3rd International Diplomats Programme in Baden-Wurttemberg and Hesse

The excursion began with a visit to the Environmental Protection Agency of the city of Freiburg. The agency’s director, Dr Wörner, discussed the ways in which the city of Freiburg uses specific incentives to encourage its residents to adopt an environmentally responsible lifestyle. He cited the example of the city’s transport policies: through inexpensive monthly tickets for the public transport system, a permanent right of way for trams, and traffic calming, the city helps make public transport an attractive alternative to car use and cut down on automotive traffic.

A “solar tour” demonstrated another aspect of Freiburg as a green city: Not only is the green district Vauban an entirely traffic-calmed area, but its buildings are also especially environmentally friendly, as the participants learned. These “passive buildings” produce more energy than they consume, for example by using solar panels. The young diplomats were especially impressed by the “Solar Rotating House”, which rotates towards the sun in winter.

A visit to the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) focused on the scientific aspects of environmental protection. The group discussed the ISE’s projects in depth with its deputy director, Dr Andreas Bett. The conversation focused largely on the issue of coordinating research with policy and business. A guided tour of the institute offered the participants insight into daily life at the ISE.

The day in Freiburg ended with a visit to the State Agency for Cross-Border Cooperation and European Affairs at the Freiburg Government Presidium. This regional level of federal politics was new to most of the young diplomats, and their curiosity about it made for an especially lively discussion with Jürgen Oser, Deputy Director of the State Agency for Cross-Border Cooperation and European Affairs, and Klemens Ficht, Vice-President of the Government Presidium.

On the second day, the 3rd International Diplomats Programme visited Frankfurt. At the European Central Bank the group met Gabriel Glöckler, Deputy Head of Division of the EU Institutions & Fora Division of the Directorate-General International and European Relations. Mr Glöckler spoke to the diplomats about the causes of and potential solutions to the euro crisis. Rasmus Rüffer, Advisor to the Directorate-General Economics in the EU Countries Division, then talked about economic developments in the euro countries, addressing the structural inadequacies of some euro countries as well as the importance of redressing these problems through reforms.

The young diplomats then visited the offices of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, where they had the opportunity to speak with Werner D’Inka, one of the newspaper’s editors-in-chief. The conversation focused on the future of journalism, specifically addressing the tension between bloggers and traditional journalists as well as the issue of whether online media will replace print media in the long term. The discussion also touched on the Russian media landscape and freedom of press in non-democratic countries.

The two-day programme concluded with a visit to Frankfurt Airport (Fraport). The airport visit started with a guided tour of the airport led by senior customer service representative Monika Marel. Along with gaining insight into the daily operations of airplane loading and maintenance, the group had the chance to see an A380 close-up. This was followed by a talk with Jutta Weimar, Senior Executive Manager of Customer Services, who spoke about the development of the airport in recent years as well as Fraport’s goals and opportunities in the upcoming years.

The International Diplomats Programme, which is a joint initiative of the Federal Foreign Office and BMW Stiftung Herbert Quandt, is organized with support from the German Council on Foreign Relations. Each year it invites twelve young diplomats from the Middle East, North Africa, South, East and South-East Asia to experience Germany from a variety of perspectives in a year-long programme conducted in English. It offers participants first-hand insight into Germany’s cultural, political, and economic life, and enables them to experience the workings of our political and federal system. Through an intensive series of events covering a broad spectrum of issues related to both Germany and the wider world, the programme aims to give participants insight into topics that will be both relevant to their work and of value in dealings with their interlocutors in Germany. For more details please contact Ms Senta Höfer at senta.hoefer@diplo.de, +49-30 1817-4838 or Ms Sarah Hasselbarth at sarah.hasselbarth@diplo.de, +49-30 1817-1086.

27 - 28 October 2011
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Think Tank Event